LED signs make artistic statements
American artist Jenny Holzer has been using LED signs as the main medium for her conceptual pieces and a new installation at the Baltic gallery in Newcastle is showcasing 24 years of her work.
Holzer first came to the attention of the mainstream art world in 1977 though her use of self-penned statements plastered and visible in public places, in a work called Truisms. This eventually graced Times Square on a gigantic LED board in 1982.
The new exhibit acts as a compendium of her most significant works, with the most recent coming from 2001, inspired by the terrorists attacks in New York and the beginning of the war in Afghanistan.
One of the most impressive uses of LED displays involves rows and rows of text-based signs built into the floor of a large room, which is designed to be viewed from a balcony above. Words and phrases slide past, before disappearing and Holzer has taken the often prosaic LED sign and turned it into something thought-provoking and slightly disturbing at times.
Holzer's newest works using LED signs no longer use her own words, but are instead filled with scrolling, constantly moving headlines and news articles about some of the most damaging natural disasters and human atrocities.
In one area the LED signs wrap around the viewer, shrouding you in a network of bright, multi-coloured lights dancing in joyful opposition to the negativity of some of the statements they contain. An art critic writing for the Guardian newspaper noted that Holzer had used the LED systems to make the viewer feel paranoid and overpowered.
Holzer's use of LED signs as more than just a means of conveying basic information unlocks their true power and makes for an insightful perspective on our modern society and the conflicts that arise within it.